Dental education 2026: A scenario exploration

N. Karl Haden, Kathryn P. Bell, Marco C. Bottino, Colin M. Haley, Karin K. Quick, Pamela C. Yelick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of the following papers is to explore plausible alternative futures for dental education. The COVID-19 pandemic, challenges emerging from racism in the US, and social unrest were the precipitating factors leading to this consideration of academic dentistry in approximately 5 years. Methods: In 2020–2021, five teams of six individual followed a seven-step process to develop five different scenarios of dental education in 2026. Four of these scenarios are constructed by considering a range of uncertainties associated with economic sustainability and educational innovation. A fifth scenario describes the optimal case for dental education's role should another pandemic occur. Results: Each scenario is presented as a narrative in three parts: scenario highlights (summary), life in the scenario (fictional case), and scenario details (a description of significant factors within the envisioned future of the scenario). As a strategic tool, these scenarios will assist leaders, institutions, and stakeholders to anticipate and prepare for different futures, identify key indicators that a particular future is emerging, and guide decision-making to create the most desirable future in a changing environment. Conclusion: Institutions are encouraged to incorporate these scenarios into their strategic and contingency planning efforts and to use them to generate dialogue during faculty development initiatives. This study provides institutions with a process and model they can follow to create scenarios at the institutional level. The final paper in this collection is a guide that provides ideas and instructions for using the scenarios in curricular and extracurricular activities with faculty members and students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-351
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Dental Education Association


  • future of dental education
  • information technology
  • managing change
  • pandemic
  • strategy

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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